The state budget stalemate is "dismantling" state services in a number of areas, according to a new report. The solution its offers is a tax hike, no matter how big it may have to be.
The report from Voices for Illinois Children outlines areas which remain unfunded, such as education for safe sleeping practices for infants. Nancy Maruyama, education director for Sudden Infant Death Services of Illinois, argues if there's a rise in the number of babies dying suddenly in their cribs, the budget impasse may be to blame.
"The majority of the death reports that I receive from the medical examiner's office, those babies are in unsafe sleep situations, and if we had been able to get out of there and do this education, it's really possible that these deaths could have been prevented," Maruyama said.
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Maruyama says state funding accounts for about 70 percent of her group's budget, and she's been forced to lay off all staff members besides herself.
With approximately 90 percent of state spending already committed despite the lack of the budget, and with less revenue coming in thanks to the rollback of the 2011 income tax increase, an even larger hike would be necessary to save funding for services not currently being covered. Emily Miller, policy director for Voices for Illinois Children, says she'd argue to lawmakers that these services are worth the risk of supporting a very unpopular tax increase.
"I think that the real political suicide is not providing funding for services like sudden infant death syndrome prevention, like heating assistance for seniors and low-income people," Miller said.
Miller says the blame for the impasse falls on Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers, but if Illinois residents feel the stalemate isn't any real impact on people around the state, that's on her and other human services advocates.
"We have not done a good enough telling you why it's so important," Miller said.